Perimenopause, Menopause, Postmenopause

What’s the difference?

If you don’t know the difference between the Perimenopause, Menopause and Postmenopause, you are not alone. Many women have never heard of the Perimenopause and are not aware that there is a Postmenopause. Read on and I shall explain all.

We can split a women’s hormonal journey into thirds. The first is before puberty, the second is from puberty to the Menopause and the final third is Postmenopause.

Typically the Perimenopause starts around the age of 40 and can last up to ten years. It is the time when our bodies start to prepare for the Menopause which is when our period’s end.

During the Perimenopause our hormones start to make considerable shifts, more so than the monthly highs and lows of our menstrual cycle. As these changes happen it is not unusual for many women to think they are suffering from a mental illness or have a chronic physical condition, in many cases this is not so. Low mood, depression, anxiety, aching bones and painful joints are some of the very common symptoms of the Perimenopause. It is so important to be aware of these symptoms so you can prepare yourself and not worry. It’s a natural hormonal process, some women will sail through it and others will unfortunately struggle. But with information and support, you can manage the effects that the symptoms may have on your mental and physical health.

When we talk about the physical and cognitive symptoms of the Menopause, we are actually talking about the Perimenopause. Hot flushes, night sweats, lack of libido, weight gain, vaginal dryness, joint pain, mood swings, anger, forgetfulness, depression and anxiety are all symptoms of the Perimenopause, not the Menopause.

The Menopause usually occurs around the age of 50. It is ONE DAY, the day you have your last period. The day that your hormone levels drop and your body moves into its third stage. This is impossible to predict. You won’t know it was your last period until you look back, so it’s a great idea to track your cycle, note it in your diary, or mark your periods on a calendar. When you haven’t had a period for one whole year, 12 months without a bleed, you have had your Menopause. Yippee!

Postmenopause is the rest of your life beyond the menopause, once you have not bled for 12 consecutive months you are Postmenopausal. Your ovaries have stopped producing eggs, your hormones are stabilising and most women will feel the symptoms of the Perimenopause subside.

If you are aware of each stage of this process, you can prepare and manage the symptoms. I’ve read and I’ve been told, that the earlier you start to look after yourself and are able to anticipate the changes ahead, the easier the menopause transition will be and the better your health will be Postmenopause. We are living longer so this is the time to take a look at your lifestyle. Do you need to cut down on drinking and smoking? Do you need to exercise more or start exercising? Do you need to improve your diet? Reduce your intake of sugar and refined carbs?

Life Postmenopause is great apparently and we have nothing to dread, so to prepare for being our best selves, let’s start looking after ourselves now. It is never too late to gain awareness, to start showing ourselves some loving kindness and to make time for our wellbeing. We are most definitely worth it. Remember ladies, the world needs more Merry Menopausal women.